Snohomish County Septic Issue

4 Replies

Hi everyone! I'm a new real estate agent and encountered a tricky septic situation. I have a listing coming up on a 5 bedroom house. However, the Snohomish Co Assessor lists it as 4 bedrooms. I was also told I can only list the home for the amount of bedrooms the septic is approved for. I went out to the county, did some digging and found the initial application of the home only lists 3 bedrooms. 

I talked to the seller and they were told it would cost $20K to have the septic updated from 3 bedrooms to 4 bedrooms. We are hoping to list the home as a 4 bedroom + office. 

Another piece to add to the complication, is the septic was moved to the other side of the driveway by the previous owner. However I did not find any documentation for that. Is it possible the home is actually approved for 4 bedrooms? I'm not sure how to find out. 

Have any of you encountered issues like this? What did you do to resolve them? I'm feeling a bit stuck with this. 3 bedrooms versus 4 or 5 in this market makes a big difference. Especially when there are actually 5 bedrooms in the home (closets and windows in all). 

@Kelli Thomas Unfortunately I've been in your shoes. You may want to call the multiple listing service and double check with an appraiser, but both had previously told me that I was to use what the septic as built is approved for.

It sounds like in your case it is to be listed as a 3 bedroom home.

You could, however, make a comment in the listing about this (I see this a lot), but an appraiser is going to have to use 3 bedroom home comps in their report unless the seller does want to foot the bill to upgrade the system. 

Regarding the moving of the system, call the snohomish health district and see what they have on file for that. If the previous owner upgraded the system they would have that on record. 

If you have documentation stating 3 bed & that is what is recorded with the County, that is what you must state. Otherwise you would be misrepresenting the property and could be held liable. Just take good photos and make sure the listing verbiage outlines the “guest rooms/offices”. Sounds like a great opportunity for multiple offers, pending you can get people to walkthrough. 

See if you or the homeowner can find the company that installed the new septic system. There are often only 4 or 5 companies that do it in an area, and if it was within the past few years, they may have documentation and permits and such.

Thank you all for the information!! I just got off the phone with the county and they say it is approved for 4 bedrooms. I requested the documentation for that. The system I accessed was for the initial build so I'm glad I called to talk to someone. 

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